According to latest market research, sales of vitamins and supplements have fallen since 2007. It is estimated that 38 per cent of adults now believe they can get their vitamins and minerals from a healthier diet rather than from supplements in comparison with 1 out of 4 in 2005.
Of course, the economic downturn has forced all of us to look at our expenses and tighten the belt where we can, but is it wise to cut out supplementing with essential vitamins and minerals that your diet may not necessarily provide.
Supplements: Is it all on your plate?
Alexandra Richmond, senior analyst from the market research company Mintel, says the growth in functional foods and a focus on healthy eating are having a negative impact on the vitamins and supplements market.
Eating more healthily is always a step in the right direction, but can we be absolutely certain that our diet provides us with all the nutrients, vitamins and minerals we need.
As anecdotal evidence, let me use myself as an example: I take vitamins and supplements as part of my daily health regime but every third month I take a break from popping the pills. I do this because I believe my body should also be allowed to restore it’s natural balance and feed from excess reserves plus, it usually coincides with my supplies running out.
I follow a very healthy diet and only eat freshly cooked food I prepare myself, I also squeeze my own juices and try to drink 2.5 litres of water a day. I don’t eat fast food and only drink the occasional alcoholic drink – perhaps a bottle of wine per month. I live in the city and get most of my fresh produce from my local supermarket. When I can, I buy organic food, especially when it comes to meat. So, as far as I am concerned I play by the rules of healthy living.
This month was my supplement-free month. I did not change anything to my diet since I get my five-a-day (if not more), I eat enough oily fish, drink plenty of water and exercise four times a week. The only change to my health regime was that I took no supplements. By the middle of the third week, I clearly noticed an increase in the following:
* Lack of concentration
* Feeling tired in the morning when I wake up
* Feeling more stressed than usual
* No stamina when exercising
* My skin started showing spots and looks pale
* Slight feelings of mental fatigue and light depression
I can only put this down to the fact that my body is not coping with it’s environment without the support of supplements. Of course, I don’t know if these observations will change once I start adding supplements to my health regime but I strongly suspect there will be great improvement to my sense of well being.
Supplements: Truth be told
The fact is that the food on our plates simply doesn’t provide us with all the nutrients we need to have strong immunity and defenses. Most crops are treated with pesticides which is passed on to us, the soil in which it is grown is depleted from essential minerals and with produce being imported from the continent it’s been harvested maybe several weeks before and traveled in coolers for at least a few days before it hits the shelves. Not to mention the impact of irradiation on food as well as the health risks for consumers posed by growth hormones in food animals. Can this really be healthy nourishing food?
Good quality supplements come with a price tag but if you choose your supplements wisely, the cost of it shouldn’t be a determining factor whether you take them or not. With super strain viruses like Swine Flu making the rounds and popping out everywhere your health is really all you have and it is imperative to look after it.
Supplements: How much do you need?
As a general rule, we all should at least take a daily multi vitamin and a daily antioxidant. A well balanced multivitamin will give you all the essential vitamins and minerals necessary to support daily metabolic processes and support optimum nutrition. A daily antioxidant will help prevent damage from free radicals and maintain the healthy functioning of your immune system and support optimum health.
If you want to add anything to this, then a good and wise choice would be additional vitamin C. It is a powerful antioxidant and is vital for tissue repair. It also provides extra protection against the oxidative stress of air pollution and chronic illness like cancer. Caffeine and cigarette smoke and polluted city air depletes the body’s natural vitamin C reserves.
Supplements: A healthy immune system
A healthy immune system is the cornerstone of good health: it allows you to interact with germs and not get infections, with allergens and avoid allergic reactions, and with carcinogens and avoid getting cancer.
Immune deficiency can be avoided by supplementing with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants and with preventive measures:
* Maintain good oral hygiene (gum infections can use up a lot of the body’s immune resources).
* Use antibiotics only when absolutely necessary and avoid immunosuppressive drugs unless there are no other alternatives left to consider.
* Cut back on sugar and stop eating polyunsaturated vegetable oils and artificially hardened fats – instead use extra-virgin olive oil and eat fresh fruits when craving something sweet.
* Don’t forget moderate exercise – it helps keep every tissue in the body healthy and can raise levels of natural killer cells, a primary defence against cancer.
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Disclaimer: Bear in mind the material contained in this article is provided for information purposes only. We are not addressing anyone’s personal situation. Please consult with your own physician before acting on any recommendations contained herein.
“Bitter pill: Vitamin sales fall as consumers take cheaper option of a healthy diet” by Harry Wallop, published 24.06.09, Daily Tellegraph.
“12 Reasons to Eat Organic” by Dr. Weil, published online 06.06.09, drweil.com